Algeria football body's head accused of supporting Morocco «at the expense of the Polisario»

Kheireddine Zetchi is at the heart of a new controversy in Algeria, after attending the CAF Ordinary and Elective General Assembly in Rabat. Media in his country scorn him for having voted in favor of an amendment which excludes the Polisario.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) hosted, during the weekend, 43rd Edition of CAF Ordinary and Elective General Assembly in Rabat. The meeting was marked by the election of South Africa’s Patrice Motsepe as president of the African football body and that of Morocco’s Faouzi Lekjaa as a member of the FIFA council.


During this General Assembly, Morocco succeeded in introducing a crucial amendment to the statutes of CAF, putting an end to any future attempt by the Polisario Front to join the organization. Thus, the approved amendment of article 4 of these statutes states that «no non-member state of the UN may sit within CAF».


An amendment criticized in Algeria


Morocco's successes during this general assembly were not really appreciated by Algeria. Since Saturday, the Algerian press has been criticizing the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) and its president Kheireddine Zetchi. He was slammed by media for withdrawing from the race for the election of the FIFA council and coming back empty-handed from this meeting.


«Algeria stood idly by and contented itself with the role of observer among a distribution of positions and gains between the parties who knew how to tip the scales in their favor and impose their influence within CAF», said Saturday the Algerian newspaper Echorouk Online.


Other media took an interest in another aspect of this question, accusing Kheïreddine Zetchi of supporting Morocco at the expense of the «Sahrawi cause». «Algeria's absence has enabled Morocco to present a proposal aimed at excluding any chance for Western Sahara to be present in the African Football Confederation», wrote Aljazair1. «The new president of the confederation, the South African Patrice Motsepe committed the first violation of the law after having ratified the proposal of Morocco by modifying the statutes of the African Football Confederation with an amendment aimed, of course, at excluding Western Sahara», the same source added.


On the same day, the Algerian Football Federation issued a press release, responding to critics and assuring that its president «never voted in favor of the amendment submitted during the meeting and that he refrained from approving the financial report as presented».


Zetchi replies


Sunday, upon his arrival in Algeria, Kheireddine Zetchi in his turn denied all claims. He told Alem El Ahdaf that «certain parties seek to deceive public opinion». «Our position remains the same and no one has the right to educate me on patriotism, especially when it comes to questions related to Palestine and Western Sahara», he added, ensuring that he did not vote for the amendment submitted by Morocco.


Denials by the FAF and its president did not convince the Algerian press. Through a video of the voting process within the CAF AGM, Ennahar Online underlined that «the chairman of the session addressed members who wanted to object or make suggestions». «No one has moved a finger. The FAF vote was definitely among the approving parties, otherwise the amendment would not have passed», the same source claimed.


On the same day, FAF announced that it going to lodge a complaint for defamation against the newspaper which it accuses of wanting to «harm the person of the President of the FAF, this body and Algeria».


On the other hand, the «Algerian National Committee for Solidarity with the Saharawi People», openly blamed Kheireddine Zetchi for said amendment. «The committee considered that the president of the FAF who was present during the meeting in Rabat assumes the responsibility when he voted in favor of this amendment of the statutes of the African organization», the body announced on Monday.